To think that church child protection officer should attend the family service

(52 Posts)
ReallyTired Thu 11-Apr-13 22:49:50

Our church has a child protection officer who never attend the family service. She goes the 8am service where there are never any children. The only reason she is the child protection officer is that she is a retired social worker. She has no involvement with Sunday school activites, the choir and knows none of the families who go to the later service.

For the past few months the child protection officer (C) has not been to church becuase she has cancer. Understandly she has not been able to carry out the role of child protection officer due to being ill.

I feel that parish church should train up a second child protection officer to cover C's sickness. The priest was very rude to me and said that C would be deeply hurt and there are no child protection issues in our church. I feel that a lack of proper safeguarding is unacceptable and C would probably agree with me.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 11-Apr-13 22:55:35

What do you want her to do during the service? Don't really understand tbh; surely it's a public place and nothing is likely to happen. And if you suspect something is going on, can you not just report it to the appropriate authorities?

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 11-Apr-13 22:57:43


MY CP officer has never attended the drama classes I run. He is based in an office 100 miles away!

However he has written my policy and guidelines for everyone to follow and is available for me, teachers & parents to contact to give advice on any concerns or issues or just to give advice.

DIYapprentice Thu 11-Apr-13 22:58:44

I agree with you OP, the child protection officer should be known to parents and other family members and the best way for that to happen is to attend family services, at least occasionally. People are far more likely to approach her with their concerns if they have at least seen her around.

squeakytoy Thu 11-Apr-13 22:59:17

do churches need official child protection officers now? confused

Sirzy Thu 11-Apr-13 23:03:24

I think the church should ask her if she wants someone to help her whilst she is ill but that's all.

Aslong as nobody has any concerns,all CRB (or whatever they are called now!) are up to date and people working with children are following best practise then what more is needed?

ReallyTired Thu 11-Apr-13 23:03:47

There is plenty of scope for child abuse in a Sunday school setting or a choir sadly. The church of england and the catholic church have a terrible history of child abuse. It is naive to think that a paediophile can't take advantage of lack safeguarding.

The responsiblity of a child protection officer is to make sure that child protection proceedures are adhered to. Unless she is at the family service then she has no idea if people without a CRB check are getting involved in youth activites.

I have been doing Sunday school without a CRB check because the poor lady has been too ill to organise the CRB checks.

Bobyan Thu 11-Apr-13 23:09:50

I have no idea why you would want the Child Protection Officer to attend the church service where the children attend. The role of the CP, as Pictures has said is to oversee policy and act on any issues should they arise. They are not there to physically guard the children!

You might be interested to know Squeaky that the CP training I did with the Church, stated that they were aware that paedophiles target churches!

Bobyan Thu 11-Apr-13 23:12:01

Then OP you are actually facilitating a CP policy breach by not having a CRB and not filing a complaint about your concerns.

LadyBeagleEyes Thu 11-Apr-13 23:12:23

So 'C' has cancer and all you're bothered about is she isn't able to do her CPO duties.
And you're doing the job without a CRB?
And though I'm not a church goer, if the state of religious worship today has to include a CPO on duty at all times, I'd be seriously looking at my faith.

AngelWreakinHavoc Thu 11-Apr-13 23:14:53

What ladybeagleeyes said hmm

CP officer in the church is there to respond to any concerns and issues, not to be at a convenient service to you OP.
Yes, maybe she should show her face from time to time just so people know who she is but as you said, she has cancer so she is unable to do that.

Although you should not be running the Sunday school with no CRB. It should maybe be suspended until that is done?

It always staggers me how 'church people' are so unforgiving.

So because no child protection issues are apparent its ok to dismiss the importance of that role to spare feelings? hmm

The catholic church hasnt learnt at all has it?!

Scholes34 Thu 11-Apr-13 23:21:23

The child protection officer doesn't need to attend the family service or sunday school. They're not there to be involved in activities for children as such. Whilst a cpo is important, it's more important that we're all vigilant when it comes to the care and safety of our children. A crb check is good up to the day it's carried out.

HarrietSchulenberg Thu 11-Apr-13 23:22:30

The OP said that the Child Protection Officer has never been to the family services, she's not just stopped coming since she's been ill.

It's worrying that your church has allowed you to work unsupervised with children and that the priest's attitude is to assume that there are no child protection issues in his church.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Thu 11-Apr-13 23:22:57

I think you misunderstand the role of the child protection officer. The role is as Picturesinthefirelight describes. And, yes, why are you helping at Sunday school without a valid CRB?

ReallyTired Thu 11-Apr-13 23:24:22

A child protection officer is not there to supervise the children, but they are responsible for making sure that volenteers who work are vetted and rules followed.

For example Sunday school requires two volunteers yet I have been put in a situation where I have been running sunday school without a helper. I am not CRB checked inspite of doing Sunday school for 8 months. People think its not necessary to have two people for Sunday school when only 3 children attend. Our priest is more fussy on who gets to hand out hymn books than who looks after the children.

A child protection officer should be known to the church community so that people can approach her with concerns. How can families get to know who she is if she never attends the family service? Surely she should have least met the people who run the sunday school or choir.

As I said before the church has an appauling history of child abuse. Often child abuse cases come up thirty years later when the perturtrator has often abused scores of children.

A CRB check does not guarentee that someone is not a paediophile, it only means that they haven't been caught. It is why the rules state that no adult should be on their own with a child.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Thu 11-Apr-13 23:27:50

So why have you accepted a situation - running Sunday school on your own - that leaves you so open to criticism and complaints (however ill-founded)?

Bobyan Thu 11-Apr-13 23:29:07

Then stop facilitating the situation by continuing to run the Sunday school.

tara277 Thu 11-Apr-13 23:30:46

What denomination is this op? There are guidelines here for c of i.

ReallyTired Thu 11-Apr-13 23:33:22

" And, yes, why are you helping at Sunday school without a valid CRB?"

I have filled out the forms, but it has not been processed. I have been put under huge pressure to do Sunday School.

Child protection is desperately important and if someone cannot do the role then alternative an child protection officer needs to be trained up. I think the kindest thing would be to have two child protection officers. Or the priest needs to take responsiblity for safeguarding.

If the child protection officer is ill then a stand in needs to be organised until she is better. No one expects a child protection officer to supervise the children, but sloppy safeguarding needs challenging.

Bobyan Thu 11-Apr-13 23:40:39

You're completely contradicting yourself OP - if you don't have a CRB then stop running the Sunday school. I don't believe that you are under "huge pressure" to have a Sunday school that only has three children. The fact that your opening post was more concerned about the CP not being at the children's service and you have drip fed the rest of the situation, to me speaks volumes.

fossil971 Thu 11-Apr-13 23:40:40

ReallyTired maybe you should volunteer grin. Its quite a burden taking on these roles but then so is running Sunday school without a helper.

I thought that in church situations, it is of course extremely good practice to follow CRB checks, child ratios etc but not actually a legal requirement like it is in schools? It's an internal matter for the church if its own policies aren't being followed, but the police or SS aren't going to come checking.

In the end you are right that the CP officer should have some knowledge of the relevant issues, or delegate it through children's leaders etc, but if a person is seriously ill it's a case of appointing a deputy or additional person to stand in surely. You've got to think what's a productive way forward.

CRB legislation has relaxed a lot recently, and in situations like a Sunday school with 3 children, you need to be realistic. Do you have them in a room alone, is there a glass door, is another adult within sight or within calling distance in an emergency....Is it your church's policy to have two leaders at all times?

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 11-Apr-13 23:45:14

It's DBS now by the way not CRB

It does found like procedure is not being followed and whilst I think a CP does not need to attend it sounds like someone else is needed to take over vetting and addressing your concerns.

fossil971 Thu 11-Apr-13 23:47:45

From CCPAS website

16. We have been told we must have two leaders for our 6+ group even though there are often only two children. Isn’t this ‘overkill’?

We wouldn’t advise you not to follow your denominational guidance but in your particular situation there seems no reason why one adult cannot supervise the number of children mentioned provided there is someone to call on if the worker has to unexpectedly respond to a child who, for example, needs accompanying to the toilet or, in an emergency, taking to hospital. This is why generally we advocate working in pairs, not, as some people think, because it prevents abuse or false allegations being made against workers, because it wouldn’t! In the unlikely event of a fabricated allegation, a child could lie about the circumstances too. As always the most important thing is that all workers are recruited safely

IneedAyoniNickname Thu 11-Apr-13 23:49:28

I'm child protection officer for a charity I work with, other than getting drunk with the other trustees at the agm last year (where there were no children) I can't remember the lady time I attended an event.

I also help at Sunday school at my c of e church, despite having never been crb checked for them, I assume the leader has though.

I was told that DBS was required for frequent and regular contacts, and once a week does not count as frequent enough.

I think that other safeguarding measures such as windows in doors, avoiding 1:1, 2 volunteers when possible are sensible.

Also as a parent and volunteer trust your gut instinct, if you are not comfortable with a situation, think and act.

Startail Fri 12-Apr-13 00:04:56

CPO is just a hat someone has to wear. Hopefully they have read the rules and can answer any CP questions that arise and organise CRB checks if necessary.

It's highly unlikely they are going to be at every service and every event ensuring the policies are followed.

Sadly it's an area in which there are no guarantees, no way of being 100% sure what goes on in the houses and on the PCs of very respectable people.

YANBU not to like doing Sunday school alone.

teacherandguideleader Fri 12-Apr-13 00:27:23

Firstly, I cannot believe you are working with children without a CRB (or whatever it is called now). My Guide one ran out and my new one was delayed the only reason I was allowed to continue running the unit in the meantime was because I had only just had one done for school. If you are volunteering for the Sunday School, there shouldn't be a cost.

Secondly, whilst school is different, I haven't seen my CPO for Guides in well over a year. My procedures are all in place. If parents have a concern about another child, they would come to me in the first instance. If I needed to pass something on, I have the email of the CPO. I cannot see why I would need her present. The girls are at no risk whatsoever from me, and whilst you can never know another person 100%, I would say the same of my assistant.

randomtask Fri 12-Apr-13 00:43:07

In my experience (church childrens & youth work) the CPO should not be involved in any of the actual work as otherwise it causes problems if something comes up. They have to check everyone has the right paperwork/permissions, ask every so often that you are complying with rules & that's it. Also, it is good practice to never have one adult with any amount of children to the point we had to change our serving system-ratios also need to be kept to & no-one should ever be alone with any child.

Different churches do different things, even different Dioceses. We tend to notice the news on CofE child abuse (where clergy are now being caught up with) seems to be mainly from the same Diocese who about 10 years ago I was horrified by the attitude/organisation of their youth & child officer (arrived at something with lots of children, hadn't looked at forms, hadn't checked about medication & didn't have a first aid kit). Needless to say they've improved now...

teacherandguideleader Fri 12-Apr-13 00:56:26

I was going to suggest that it may be better if the CPO wasn't always around - if they became 'friendly' with any families, I wonder if it could alter their judgement of situations rather than them being impartial and always acting on the best interests of the child.

sashh Fri 12-Apr-13 03:54:17

Is this church on a remote island in the middle of an ocean?

I thought not. Get the CPO from a neighboring parish or someone at the diocese to send your forms off.

chrome100 Fri 12-Apr-13 06:45:23

A CRB is hardly worth the paper it's written on. I don't think there's an issue with you doing the Sunday School without it. I also don't think the CP needs to be physically present at all times; she is not a police officer who is there to keep an eye on things! I think YABU.

YoniYoniYoniOiOiOi Fri 12-Apr-13 06:54:12

Don't be doing the Sunday school,without the CRB.

I can't do that I'm not checked is easy enough to say.

And try having some empathy for the poor woman with cancer. The reason she's not been at church is because she HAS CANCER.

Don't churches do caring for your fellow man/woman, the Good Samaritan and all that anymore?

BreastmilkCrucifiesAFabLatte Fri 12-Apr-13 07:32:53

Actually I agree with the OP. The CP person should be someone in a position to be able to make his/her face known to children and families, really so that members of the congregation would find him/her approachable with any issues.

However, much more worrying is your involvement without a CRB which SHOULD NOT be allowed. So the church both need to give the poor CP lady sone support (how about a deputy to attend family services and chat to the parents and kids) and make sure thay everyone who needs one has a CRB

Anthracite Fri 12-Apr-13 08:18:52

Our child protection officers don't attend the family service either. I've never thought it to be a problem. One is a social worker and the other a police officer. They are introduced to parents at the beginning of the year parents' meeting.

It is not their job to spot safeguarding issues. It is their job to listen to the concerns of anyone who has a safeguarding concern, and then decide how to deal with it and liaise with authorities.

I think it is probably for the best that there is some distance between them and the families, tbh (be in different home groups, coffee mornings ...), so that they are as neutral as possible.

What is important is that all children's workers are trained in safeguarding so that they know how to identify potential abuse, listen to children and respond appropriately.

Anthracite Fri 12-Apr-13 08:32:28

Administration of Sunday School (and other children's groups) is not the responsibility of the CPLO. That is the responsibility of the Children's and Families Worker, Youth Pastor (if you have one) and ultimately the Vicar. This team, probably via the church administrator, will keep track of CRB checks.

I think my church pretty much follows diocesan policy regarding children's work. If someone volunteers more than once a term, they have to be CRB checked. All groups have to have at least one female and one male leader. If there are insufficient leaders, the children stay in church.

The CPLOs run training for children's leaders and helpers. This has to be on a three year cycle. At our church, we do Safeguarding training for anyone over 14, as most of our teens help out with children's work either regularly throughout the year, or at the annual Holiday Club.

ReallyTired Fri 12-Apr-13 09:55:33

"And try having some empathy for the poor woman with cancer. The reason she's not been at church is because she HAS CANCER.

Don't churches do caring for your fellow man/woman, the Good Samaritan and all that anymore?"

What about empathy for the victims who have experienced child abuse in church? It is naivity to think that these attrocious acts cannot happen in the future?

Child protection is far more than sexual abuse. Its dealing with bullying, neglect, physical abuse as well as other areas. Safeguarding vunerable adults is important as well.

The problem is not empathy for someone having cancer, its not having proper safeguarding proceedures. The issue is the priest not accepting that child protection can go wrong. People (like Jimmy Saville) can appear to be lovely and its extremely easy for churches to get caught out. The harm that child abuse causes should not be underestimated.

I have had no safeguarding training from the church whatsoever and as far as I know no one else has had safeguarding training. If I had some safeguarding training then I would understand the role of the child protection officer and what my responsiblites are.

Well if it's that much of a big deal for you, why are you doing Sunday School?

jomaynard Fri 12-Apr-13 09:58:37


The role is not to play policeman for CP issues, but to be the person anyone with CP concerns can go to. Probably also training and awareness raising in all those who work with children.

In someways having no contact with children would give her independence in judgement.

LadyBeagleEyes Fri 12-Apr-13 09:59:33

Gosh, if that's what church has come to these days, you know, hunting down paedophiles rather than worship, I'm glad I'm an athiest.

jomaynard Fri 12-Apr-13 10:02:33

If you have concerns then talk to the Diocese or similar higher level CP officer. My Diocese runs monthly CP training free for all people who work with children. In some Churches it is compulsory to attend, in others they just highly recommend.

metimenowplease Fri 12-Apr-13 10:03:22

You sound very selfish OP. That poor woman. If you feel so stromgly about your CRB status, either find another way to get the forms sent off, or quit, and use the extra time to offer some Christian support to the CPO.

jomaynard Fri 12-Apr-13 10:03:23

Cp is not just paedophiles!

BackforGood Fri 12-Apr-13 10:05:59

YABU with your original question.
YANBU to think that while this lady is indisposed, the procedures and processes should be ignored.
You are, however, in an ideal position to ensure that doesn't happen, and yet you aren't doing so, so YABU to complain about it.
If you feel as strongly about it as you seem to do, then surely you can say "I am unable to take Sunday School as no-one has processed my CRB, and no-one is sitting in with me, to be the 2nd adult" ~ then, because the Church wants the class to continue, it kind of forces the issue.

ImAlpharius Fri 12-Apr-13 10:12:34

When you approached your Priest was it to complain about the Safeguarding Officer not attending services or was it to ask him to send off your form?
He should be able to send the form off, having checked ID, no ned to talk to the lady at all if she is not there.
Are you on the PCC?

kinkyfuckery Fri 12-Apr-13 10:16:39

You're concerned that there is noone overseeing child protection? You're concerned as abuse has been historically common within the church? You're concerned that you're the only adult and you haven't been CRB checked?

Am I missing something? Surely you just have to ensure you don't abuse the children? Do you need close supervision to do that? confused

WilsonFrickett Fri 12-Apr-13 10:27:03

I fail to see how you can be so upset about this (which you clearly are) yet continue to work in a way which you believe is wrong. Stop doing the Sunday School.

jomaynard Fri 12-Apr-13 11:17:04

If you are C of E then the Vicar/Priest also has responsibility for CP, and should be trained. There is also a chain to report things to. In our area there is the Diocesian CP person's phone number prominently displayed.

SmellieWellies Fri 12-Apr-13 11:22:33

Our CPO is shared between 3 churches due to severe lack of people, and she does not come to any of the services either. She occasionally comes to a PCC meeting, but we never see her otherwise. It never occurred to me that this was a problem.

Mind you, the only children we have at our little church are mine.

Send you own forms off, or ask someone from the PCC to do it.

SmellieWellies Fri 12-Apr-13 11:23:49

Also, if you are worried, you can organise safeguarding training yourself. You diocese can help you with it, as others have said.

Anthracite Fri 12-Apr-13 13:54:12

Safeguarding does not just protect against abuses perpetrated by church members. This is a small part of the initiative.

Young people may disclose to youth leaders of issues with their family, at school, or even social networking - all outside church but something the church safeguarding team have to act on.

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